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Dropping Water Levels in Lake Mead, USA – April 6th, 2012

36.1N 114.4W

April 6th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers

USA - April 3rd, 2012

Two large reservoirs can be observed in this image of western USA: Lake Mead, by the left edge, and Lake Powell, created by the Glen Canyon Dam, by the right edge. Both are important sources of water in this arid region. Lake Mead straddles the Arizona-Nevada border, and Lake Powell is on the Arizona-Utah border. Aqueducts carry water from the system to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and other communities in the Southwest.

There is, however, a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead, which was created by the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River, will go dry by 2021 because of escalating human demand and climate change, according to a study by Tim Barnett and David Pierce of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California at San Diego.

By 2017, there is a 50 percent chance that the reservoir could drop so low that Hoover Dam could no longer produce hydroelectric power. Water conservation and mitigation technologies and policies thus need to be implemented now, the study stated.

The disappearance of the manmade lake would create a tidal wave of ill effects for the southwestern U.S. The lake provides water for large cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as for several agricultural interests. The power also keeps on the lights in that region of the country.

Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona Border, USA – August 14th, 2009

36.0N 114.7W

August 14th, 2009 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes

Utah, USA - July 26th, 2009

Utah, USA - July 26th, 2009

The contours of the Nevada and Arizona landscape around Lake Mead and the Colorado River appear quite sharp in this orthorectified image. Filled by water impounded by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the USA.

However, the combination of a huge demand for Lake Mead’s water and climate change has resulted in a 100 foot drop in this large lakes’s water level since 2000. Although that may not seem to be a great deal of water loss, it is important to remember that the vast reservoir is wide at the top but narrow at the bottom. This means that the 10% drop in depth actually represents a 50% loss in volume.

This huge loss happened in just nine years – The lake went form 96 percent capacity to roughly 43 percent, as of May 2009. The US Bureau of Reclamation predicts that water levels will drop another 14 feet over the summer.

Last year, researchers at the University of California San Diego concluded that if climate change goes uncurbed and water use is not reduced, Lake Mead could dry up by the year 2021.

Grand Canyon Between Lakes Mead and Powell, USA – February 17th, 2012

36.0N 112.1W

February 17th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers

USA - January 2nd, 2012

Visible by the left edge of this image is Lake Mead, with a distinctive, 3-pronged shape. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States in maximum water capacity. It is located on the Colorado River about 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by water impounded by the Hoover Dam, it extends 112 miles (180 km) behind the dam, holding approximately 28,500,000 acre feet (35.2 km3) of water

Visible further east is another large reservoir, Lake Powell. It is also located on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. It is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States behind Lake Mead, storing 24,322,000 acre feet (3.0001×1010 m3) of water when full. The lake was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the controversial Glen Canyon Dam.

Located between the two reservoirs (best observed in full image) is the Grand Canyon, a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet / 1,800 metres). Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.

Vegetation Shifts Around the Great Lakes – May 24th, 2013

46.9N 88.1W

May 24th, 2013 Category: Image of the day, Vegetation Index

USA – May 24th, 2013

Water-level change is integral to the structure and function of Great Lakes coastal wetlands, and many studies document predictable relationships between vegetation and water level. However, anthropogenic stressors, such as invasive species, land-use change, and water-level stabilization, interact to shift the historical cycle toward dominance by invasive species.

Scientists have determined that habitat dominated by Typha species has expanded to eliminate wet meadow habitat. In 2000, meadow area was below that predicted by the historical pattern due to the landward advance of marsh habitat during a year of decreasing water levels. In the same period, land use in the wetland watersheds converted from agriculture to urban. Studying vegetation shifts is an essential step in the process of preserving and restoring ecological integrity (click here for more information).

Red and Pink Landscape Around Lake Powell, USA – October 1st, 2012

36.9N 111.3W

October 1st, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes

USA – September 16th, 2012

Visible amidst the red and pink hues of the surrounding landscape are the dark waters of Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. It is the second largest man-made reservoir in maximum water capacity in the United States behind Lake Mead, storing 24,322,000 acre feet (3.0001×1010 m3) of water when full. Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the controversial Glen Canyon Dam.

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